How weather balloons help meteorologists

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 5:51 PM EST
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Meteorologists use many different weather tools to help predict the weather and keep us safe. One such tool are weather balloons and radiosondes. But that begs the question: how do weather balloons help?

It is important to note that the balloon itself is not the instrument recording the weather data. Think of it as a way to transport the real measuring device: a radiosonde.

A radiosonde is a weather instrument that is attached to the balloon. The radiosonde then records weather data every second, data that includes temperature, air pressure, and moisture just to name a few.

The data is then sent back to the ground to a receiver, which gives all the data to meteorologists. Without radiosondes, the weather models that meteorologists rely on to make their forecasts would be useless.

June Wang is the Interim Project Manager at the New York State Mesonet. She is based at the University of Albany, where in recent months, she has been assisting launching weather balloons as the National Weather Service in Albany move buildings.

Wang said that radiosondes are the only device that give simultaneous measures of all the variables meteorologists use. She also added that even in long-term forecasting, the use of radiosondes and upper-air data allow meteorologists to see patterns in the atmosphere, while not relying on surface readings.

Wang said that in addition to the radiosondes that University of Albany does, the Mesonet also provides great information as well. A few weather stations across the state have a device that reads into the upper levels of the atmosphere, in addition to the surface level observations.

If you want to visit the NYS Mesonet site, follow this link here.